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Pamfilova Attacks Freedom House Report on Russia

Kommersant reports that Ella Pamfilova, head of the presidential council on civil society institutions and human rights, has issued some tough comments against the recent human rights report from Freedom House. pamfilova.jpg Kommersant:

Russian Officials Lash Out at a Human Rights Report Russian officials lambasted a recent human rights report of the Freedom House NGO on Thursday calling its findings “absurd” and “exaggerated”. The report maintains that in terms of political and civil liberties Russia falls into the category of “not free countries” along with Cuba, North Korea and Libya. The annual Freedom in the World report caused a real uproar in Russia. The Foreign Ministry declined to comment, calling the findings in the report “absurd”. Ella Pamfilova, head of the presidential council on civil society institutions and human rights, told Kommersant that it is former CIA employees who shape Freedom House’s ideology. “This report is all the more regrettable as Russian bureaucrats will not take activities of human rights defenders seriously because of this kind of opuses.” In its freedom rating for 2006, Freedom House has put Russia among “not free” countries. Russia has scored its lowest rating in 16 years, being ranked close to North Korea, Cuba, Gabon, Libya and Pakistan. Meanwhile, Russian human rights activists consider the Freedom House’s conclusions quite fair. “How can one argue that the situation with human rights in 2006 didn’t become worse than in 2005?” Yury Dzhibladze, director of the Human Rights Institute, told Kommersant. “Do we have independent court system? Do we have many free media?” Mr. Dzhibladze said the comparison with North Korean may be painful for the country which strives to become a world economic leader, but authorities ought to consider it “as a signal” that the issue of human rights and political freedoms must be addressed. Christopher Walker, one of the report’s writers, says the rating did not mean to equate the level of human rights in Russia with that in North Korea. “We just wanedt to show that Russia is moving in the wrong direction and it goes farther away from free countries.”